Physical Science

The Multiverse is a Done Deal

That title is somewhat facetious, of course, but I do think the multiverse is far more than an idle speculation. I think it is an idea that is sufficiently well-supported that it is those who deny it who should be on the defensive. I would make an elaborate argument in defense of that claim, but…

Super-sniffing elephants

Like Aesop’s fable, rats have another reason to be envious of elephants. Elephants also have significantly more genes that can detect different smells (i.e. olfactory receptor genes) than other super-sniffers like rats and dogs. In fact, compared to 13 other species, African elephants have 1,948 genes related to smell putting them ahead of the previous…

“Art has a double face, of expression and illusion, just like science has a double face: the reality of error and the phantom of truth.” -Publilius Syrus Out in the depths of space, objects range from the incredibly small and low mass to the huge and super-heavy, shrinking down again for the most ultra-massive objects…

Uncertain Dots 19

In which our hangout turns nineteen; we may need to look into a special guest for the 20th, or something. Or maybe save guest stars for the one after that, when it can drink. Anyway, Rhett and I chat about grading, lab reports, why Excel sucks, and an online experiment that we really ought to…

One of the things climate change science deniers say, to throw you off, is that Antarctic sea ice is expanding. They even claim that the amount of expansion of Antarctic sea ice offsets the dramatic retreat of Arctic sea ice (see this for the latest on the Arctic). I’ve even seen it argued, in that…

As it does every summer, the Arctic Sea ice is melting off. Over the last several years, the amount of sea ice that melts by the time it hits minimum in September has generally been increasing. So, how’s it doing now? The graph above shows the 1981-2010 average plus or minus two standard deviations. Before…

“We sail within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end.” -Blaise Pascal By now, you’ve probably learned that Messier objects — and galaxies in particular — come in a huge, rich variety of types, structures and compositions. But sometimes, the simplest structure of all is the rarest. Think about it: most…

“Which is more likely? That the universe was designed just for us, or that we see the universe as having been designed just for us?” -Michael Shermer After the end of another fun-filled week, it’s time again to take a look at (and respond to) what you’ve had to say! Over on the main Starts With A Bang blog,…

“You can observe a lot by just watching.” -Yogi Berra Sure, the quantum Universe is a little bit spooky. Things that we’re used to being “determined” here in the macroscopic world, like where a particle will end up if you throw it, aren’t so simple if we head on down to subatomic scales. While you…

My LonCon Schedule

Since lots of other people are posting their Worldcon progrm(me) schedules, I might as well share mine, too. Frankly, I find it a little baffling: Kaffeeklatsch Thursday 18:00 – 19:00, London Suite 5 (ExCeL) Kay Kenyon, Chad Orzel Banksian Saturday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL) ‘Banksian’ has become a commonplace descriptor in SF…